Several tornadoes confirmed across the Chattahoochee Valley

Damage at the field house of the Smiths Station Junior high baseball fields

Birmingham National Weather Service meteorologists confirm that damage along Pepperell Parkway in Opelika was caused by an EF1 tornado with 90 to 95 mph winds.

Along 3rd Avenue, residents who were home said they heard loud winds and cracking noises outside, but after 10-15 seconds, it was all over.

Lee County Emergency Management Agency Public Information Officer, Rita Smith said that the area dodged a major bullet over the weekend.

“You just knew it was going to be that kind of day,” Smith said. “They were all around us; the wind, the hail, the lightning, the rain, tornado warnings all around us. We watched it. We knew. What we pray for, what we hope for every time is that they don’t touch down, and that they go on above us. We’ve seen that happen many times. Lee County is fortunate, blessed.”

Damage that occurred at an athletic sports complex in Smiths Station Saturday, January 21 was from an EF1 tornado with 90- 100 mph winds.

The tornado moved bleachers, took down backstops of both the softball and baseball field, heavily damaged the indoor-hitting facility of the baseball team and destroyed the locker room for the softball team.

Head baseball coach, Mike Ferry said that facilities like theirs can be replaced, but lives can not be replaced and that he is glad nobody was hurt. Ferry said that the outpouring of support from the community has been tremendous, but due to the safety concerns on the fields right now, it is not the right to help.

“Our kids will work hard and overcome,” Coach Ferry said. “No matter where we play, it will be special. Of course, it’s special when you play at home in front of your fans, but we’ve got a great community, a great sport, and our fans will go where ever we are if need be. I’d hate for somebody to dive for a ball on the 20th, because we rushed to get back and they have their arm torn from wrist to elbow because there was a nail or something stuck in their elbow.”

Both the baseball and softball teams have doubleheaders on February 20, and they are hoping to have the facilities completed by then. The school said that the City of Smiths Station and other high schools have offered their facilities to the school.

Other areas that saw damage from severe weather over the weekend was in the community of Cataula in Harris County, and damage near Sutton’s Corner and Carnegie in Clay and Randolph Counties. These areas have yet to be surveyed by NWS meteorologists. Once that information becomes available it will be reported.

Editor’s Note: Birmingham NWS initially stated the Smiths Station tornado as an EF2, but have since downgraded their findings to an EF1. The information should reflect their newest information.

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